Facebook is an integral part of the world we live in. It has allowed us to interact with people and businesses all over the world in a way that was previously impossible. For golf clubs, it has created a platform to promote themselves and share their news instantly and for free. However, some golf clubs have fallen into the trap of using their public Facebook page to share both external and internal communications. Not only does this cause that page to look messy, it also means that any internal issues or negative feedback is displayed to anyone who views this page, including potential new members or visiting golfers.
A simple solution to this problem is to create a Private Facebook Group. Below we will explain what they are and how to properly manage them.
What are Private Facebook Groups?
Facebook Groups are pages on Facebook where people can connect and communicate about a shared interest, for example being a member of your golf club. As most people now have their own personal Facebook account, it is the best platform to house such a group. You can set up a group for the membership as a whole or create individual pages for different membership groups (female members, junior members, new members etc).These groups can be “Public” meaning anyone on Facebook can join and post on them, or “Private” meaning only selected people can join and post. We strongly advise that you set your golf club’s group as Private. This way you can ensure that it is only your club’s members who can see and post on the page.
Creating a Private Facebook Groups can have numerous benefits for the club including:
- Create a safe space to communicate any relevant internal communications directly with your membership (dates and results of medals, updates from club council meetings, daily course updates etc)
- Gives your members a direct line with the club to voice their opinions and concerns
- Can help with membership retention as members feel they are being listened to and more valued
- Allows you to use the public Facebook page exclusively for external communications (high quality photography/video of course and facilities, dates of open competitions, relevant club news such as course closures and cancelled events)
- Allows you to better control the public image of the club on Facebook
Below is a link to Facebook’s step by step guide to setting a group:
How to Properly Manage a Private Facebook Group
As we mentioned above, Private Facebook Groups can be an excellent communication tool and help you stay better connected with your membership. However, if they aren’t used correctly they can be hijacked by vocal members and end up becoming more of an issue than a benefit. We have put together a few ideas about how to properly manage your club’s Private Facebook Group:
Select the right type of person to act as Group Admin
The Group Admin is the person who is primarily responsible for posting content on the group page, accepting requests to join the group and monitoring what is being posted by others on the page. Selecting the right person to act as Group Admin will have a major impact on effectiveness of the group as a communication tool between the membership and the club. It is therefore essential that this person has certain skills including the following:
- Good understanding of and passion for the golf club
- Good understanding of using Facebook (posting content, managing Facebook groups)
- Ability to communicate in a professional and appropriate manner
- Ability to deal with negative comments and issues in a professional and appropriate manner
Being a Group Admin can be a very time consuming job, especially as the group becomes more popular. Often the responsibility for this role is given to the general manager, captain or head greenkeeper. However, these are already extremely busy roles. It therefore may be worth finding someone within your membership who is suitable to take on the role. You could offer to waive their membership fees in return for their services. Whoever you choose as Group Admin, keep in mind that this person will be representing and communicating as the club. Pick the right person!
Establish Group Guidelines
It’s important to give your group some sort of direction on what types of conversation are encouraged or discouraged in order to maintain a thriving community. Creating some sort of behavior expectation is essential for creating a safe space in your community, but having a list of do’s and don’ts can feel intimidating and aggressive to new members. Establishing guidelines not only puts “rules” in a more positive light, but it allows members to take ownership of how they can influence and encourage great community behavior. An example of a guideline could be:
“We believe debate and disagreement are constructive, but personal attacks, trolling and abuse will not be tolerated”
It may be worth working with the group members when the group is first created to come up with a universally agreed upon list of these guidelines. These guidelines can then be pinned to the top of the group’s feed so they are visible for all members of the group to see.
Moderate Your Group
Moderating your group is vital to maintaining a healthy community. If you don’t offer some sort of control over the conversation, others will control it for you. Here are the basics of how to handle if someone breaks the rules or has an issue with another member of the group:
- Delete any post that breaks the rules – Regardless of the reason it breaks the rules, remove the post as soon as you are aware of it. This will ensure that you maintain a safe environment for your members to enjoy.
- Handle sensitive issues using a private message – If you delete someone’s post, follow up by sending them a private message to explain your reason for doing so. It may be the case that they didn’t realise they were breaking a rule. Be polite but firm. Make sure that they understand you are not trying to be mean or unreasonable, you are simply ensuring the proper use of the group.
Private messages are also an excellent way to resolve issues between members of the groups. It is definitely better to only deal with those involved than get into a public argument that anyone can get involved in.
How Caddie Marketing can help you
Interested in learning more about using Private Facebook Groups? We would love to hear from you!
At Caddie Marketing, not only are we experts in digital marketing, we also have a deep understanding of the golf industry and the challenges it faces. We have brought these two sectors together seamlessly to provide excellent results for our clients.
Terms such as ‘lead generation’, ‘conversions’, ‘Ads Manager’ and ‘target audience’ might seem to you like a whole new language. You are not alone. Our experience shows that the golf industry is only just beginning to get acquainted with the benefits of digital marketing.
As part of the service we offer, we will take over the whole process of marketing your promotions from beginning to end. Our team will use their expertise to ensure that your promotion reaches and appeals to your target market of golfers. All that will be left for you to do is work through the list of genuinely interested leads and convert them into revenue for your club. We’ll even show you how to do that!
We pride ourselves on providing the best results and excellent ROI for our clients. Using the expertise we have built up, we have taken relatively small amounts of ad spend and turned them into significant revenue. We are confident in our ability to do the same for you.
Head here to find out more: caddiemarketing.co.uk/contact/
It is often said that it is cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Despite this many golf clubs spend enormous amounts of time and effort on coming up with new and exciting ways to attract new members. Working out how to keep the members they already have is often an afterthought (when was the last time you heard of a Retention Secretary on golf club’s committee).
Below we have put together some simple ways to ensure you retain the members you have and how to even use someone leaving your club to your advantage.
Retention starts from the moment someone becomes a member. However, many clubs are seeing a high turnover of members, particularly in the first 2-3 years of membership. New members may be no more critical than existing members but they also haven’t built up any loyalty to the club. They will have less reservations about taking their business elsewhere if their golfing experience is not as positive as it could be. Below we have put together some ideas to help you to integrate a new member into the club and retain them in the long term.
Meet the key people within the club
All potential members should have a meeting with the General Manager/Secretary. They should be shown around the club and give them the opportunity to ask any questions. If possible they should be introduced to the Club Pro and the relevant captain for their membership category.
There are also always existing members who are superb advocates of the club who would be ideal to help make new members feel welcome. Identify them, be sure they know who the new members are and encourage them to engage with the new members when they see them around.
All new members should get a comprehensive welcome pack which contains all the key elements to help then settle into the club. The pack should include the following:
- Membership Card
- Bag tag
- Welcome letter from Club Manager/Secretary and/or Captain
- Member Benefits sheet (discounts in proshop, free society membership for non golfing family members, discounted junior membership for family members)
- Club information
- Opening times
- Social calendar
- Pro shop
- Guest prices
- Bar menu
- Reciprocal golf
It sounds obvious but golfers join a club to play golf.
Your existing members will know all about various competitions, how to find a game and interclub societies but a new member won’t. Don’t assume that they will find out for themselves, make it easy for them. Ask your pro to set them up with the right type of people or run new member competitions to help them meet fellow new members.
Creating communications specifically for new members is important and critical to helping them feel valued and part of the club. Sending out an email after an initial period of time to ensure they are settling into the club and that they do not have any issues is an excellent way to achieve this .If there are any major changes in the way the club operates, for example winter golf, it is important to communicate these with new members.
Running a new members survey towards the end of their first year is another option. Not only will it allow you to connect with your new members before the crucial membership renewal time, it will also give you a fresh perspective on your club.
One of the most common complaints by existing members is poor communication. The more often you communicate with your members, the more value they will see in their membership. The more you make them feel special, the more likely they are to talk about your golf club and act as an ambassador for you, which will assist your recruitment. Below are a few different ways to better communicate with your existing members:
- Weekly email from General Manager or Secretary
- Captain’s Update after council meetings
- Member Forums
- Set up a Private Facebook Page/Group for members only (See our blog on how to set and run these properly)
- Invite members to meet with Head Greenkeeper and let him show and explain essential work on the course
Regardless of which method you choose to use, the important thing is to give your members the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns and feel like they are being listened to. It is also essential to ensure that any regular communication is engaging and interesting. Don’t send out a communication just to waffle or you may lose interest.
As with new members, running an existing member survey is an excellent way to gain a better understanding of how satisfied your members are with how the club is operating. Hiring an external company to create and manage these surveys is the best option. They will be able to create a survey that is not influenced by internal politics or contains questions that are biased towards getting the answers the club wants to hear. This way you will ensure you receive a much truer reflection of the current mindset of the membership. There is a strong chance you will receive some negative feedback. Use it as an opportunity to improve the way the club is run. If your membership can see that you are listening to them, they are much more likely to stay.
Caddie Marketing Top Tip – Track your members
By using a system such as BRS, you can track your members and determine how well they are utilising their current membership package. If you discover someone is over or under utilising their membership, you should contact them and offer to change their membership package. If you don’t there is a chance they may decide to leave as they are not getting value for money from their current membership. For example, if Mr Smith has only played once a month but is currently signed up to a full membership, it may be worth contacting him and offering to move him to a more suitable membership package. This is an excellent way to show how much you value him as a member. It will also ensure you still receive some amount of membership revenue from him and reduce them chance of him leaving.
Members will leave golf clubs. That is just a fact. Some departures from golf clubs are a result of a change in personal circumstances. Others will leave because they can’t get a tee time, they aren’t happy with the condition of the course or they don’t feel valued. The key is knowing why in order to prevent it happening too regularly. If you know the reason why, there is always the opportunity to get them back. Creating a short questionnaire to send out to anyone who chooses to leave the club or does not renew their membership is an excellent way to gather this information. They may unearth an underlying issue you were not aware of or highlight a common reason for leaving. It will also help you make informed decisions about necessary changes to stop others from leaving for the same reason.